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Celebrating Together—Apart
With Halloween around the corner, Thanksgiving just a month away and winter celebrations not far behind, we are officially approaching the holiday season. For me, just like for many Americans, that usually means family gatherings, parties with friends, home-cooked meals shared among loved ones, giggling grandchildren, clinking glasses, yummy treats, twinkling lights and lots of laughter. But 2020 isn’t like other years.

As Covid continues to upend our lives, and cases tick up across the country, our usual group celebrations are off the table this year. So we are left to wonder: How can we stay safe yet connected during the upcoming holiday season?

As seasoned work-from-home experts, we at WAHVE know there are many ways to build bonds and engage in fulfilling social activities from a distance. It’s not just our business—it’s our passion! A few of our tried-and-true strategies for bringing together remote work teams can be applied to our personal lives, as well. For example:

  • Virtual toasts. Get out your glasses and give them a digital “clink” with your friends and loved ones over Zoom, Skype or any other video-conferencing service. Just because we can’t physically be in the same place doesn’t mean we can’t see each other’s faces, catch up and enjoy a well deserved cocktail together. To bring the group together more, consider building in a shared experience, whether that’s a theme for the party, a specialty food or drink (having everyone bake their own chocolate chip cookies or mix their own margaritas, for example), or instituting a party game or ice breakers (“share your favorite winter activity”).
  • Send care packages. Another fun way to offer a shared experience among relatives or friends is to send everyone a small gift that each person can open onscreen, during a group video call. This builds the bond and keeps some of the tradition of the holidays going.
  • Don’t forget the holiday cards. If you usually send out family updates during the holidays, whether that’s in the form of a card or newsletter, it will be extra appreciated this year because people are thirsty for real, human connections. Consider personalizing them a bit more this year, perhaps by handwriting them or adding in customized notes for each recipient. 
  • Schedule group activities. To build in more connection during this potentially isolating time, get creative. Offer some structured activities for people to participate in, such as virtual exercise, cooking or painting classes. You might be surprised at who signs up and what you can learn from each other.
  • Go outside. It’s possible for small groups of family members to celebrate outdoors, socially distanced and with masks. Enjoy the season’s crisp weather by investing in warm blankets and outdoor heaters, then place chairs at least 6 feet apart and sip cups of hot cocoa, apple cider, or hot toddies together.

The holidays are usually filled with precious moments of togetherness. With a little creativity and positive spirit, we can ensure this year’s festive season is just as meaningful and connected as in the past. We are in this together.
Sharon Emek, PhD, CIC
CEO and President, Work At Home Vintage Experts
Dress for (Video) Success
As the coronavirus pandemic wages on and more and more businesses extend their work-from-home mandates — as well as recognize the benefits of a remote workforce — let’s face it: Zoom is here to stay.

But while many of us may have traded our suits and dress shirts for sweatpants and socks, that doesn’t mean we can’t put our best professional foot forward and look smart and successful during our video calls. In fact, it may be even more important now, when we can’t rely on our physical presence in an office to create a great first impression and remind colleagues of our value (and existence!). It’s time to up our virtual-meeting game.

Luckily, there are some easy tips for ensuring you present yourself in the best light on your video conferences. Here are just a few:

  1. Get into the right mindset. When possible, keep your regular getting-ready-for-work routine to help get you in a professional mindset for your calls. This may mean taking a shower, eating a nutritious breakfast, having your morning cup of joe, or whatever you usually do to prepare for a work day.
  2. Go bold. When it comes to selecting your clothes, consider picking a simple, bold color to help you stand out and look crisp onscreen. As an added benefit, bright colors can give your mood a huge boost and give you a happier outlook on the day ahead,” ThredUP merchandiser Kesha Linder told TODAY Style. But skip the busy patterns — they can be distracting and often don’t translate well digitally.
  3. Know it’s OK to get “laced up from the waist up.” Since most video feeds only capture you from the waist up, you don’t have to don your best dress pants, skirts and shoes for your call. But consider balancing out any super-comfy bottoms with a slightly more structured top, or swap in jeans for your call. “I like to wear something that has more structure to it, like jeans or a tailored blouse,” costume designer and stylist Whitney Anne Adams explained to TODAY Style. “It will help you sit up straighter and keep you more focused on the tasks at hand. I know when I am in exercise gear or lounge wear I have a tendency to melt into the couch.”
  4. Consider the lighting. It’s much more flattering and creates a clearer image when you put your light source in front of you. Position yourself so you are facing a lamp or window (natural light is ideal). Avoid being backlit or having harsh overhead lighting, as this can either wash you out or make your video very dark. Also, if you wear glasses, check your lighting on the video camera beforehand so that you eliminate any sources of glare.
  5. Opt for a clutter-free backdrop. Interior designer Courtney Warren told TODAY Style that “humans subconsciously make an instant judgement based on what we see. For instance, is your new consultant taking a call from a home office that is cluttered or chaotic? We might assume she will handle our account in the same haphazard fashion. Is the new hire’s space tidy, well-curated and professional? Suddenly, our confidence in her competency has skyrocketed.” Many of us don’t have dedicated home offices that we can take our video calls from, but consider dialing in from a spot in your home that offers a calm and organized background: neutral walls and clutter-free surfaces. Or, if your video conferencing service and computer allow, select a simple yet cheery virtual background for your call.
  6. Considering getting coiffed. Top makeup experts agree that putting in just 10 minutes of effort can lead to a big payoff, both for your psychological state and for how your management team sees you. If you usually wear makeup, consider focusing your time on the features that frame your face: your eyes, eyebrows and lips. This will help define your face for the camera. One expert recommends going for a bolder lip color, since she feels this draws attention to you and, specifically, to what you’re saying.
  7. Focus on how you feel. Professor Carolyn Mair, consultant and author of The Psychology of Fashion, told TheLadders.com that whatever you choose to wear, the most important thing is that it should make you feel good, because when we feel good we are able to project a more confident image and focus on achieving our goals.

What are some of your go-to tips for dressing for success on video calls?
WAHVE is an innovative contract talent solution that matches retiring, experienced career professionals with a company's talent needs. WAHVE bridges the gap between an employer's need for highly skilled professional talent and seasoned professionals desiring to extend their career working from home. From screening to placement, WAHVE is a comprehensive solution to qualifying, hiring, and managing experienced remote talent.
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